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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Learning: A Real Alternative

    It is a well-established fact that Stony Brook University has a large student body, numbering over 10,000 students.’ A lesser-known fact is that there are hundreds more students, from all corners of the globe, participating in courses offered by Stony Brook every day, made possible via the university’s distance learning programs.

    Currently, distance learning programs are offered by the School of Professional Development (SPD), the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS) and the School of Nursing.’ These programs allow students to earn credits toward a number of graduate and undergraduate degree programs.

    The School of Professional Development’s Electronic Extension Program offers the University’s only degree program that can be earned completely via distance learning.’ The MA/LS (Master of Arts in Liberal Studies) degree program consists of 33 credits and has been offered since 2001. SPD also offers other online courses that count toward degree requirements in the Master of Professional Studies, Master of Teaching, Human Resource Management, School District Administrator and School Administrator/Supervisor programs.’ In addition, CEAS, in conjunction with SPD, offers a Master of Sciences (MS) program in Technological Systems Management to students throughout New York State.’ The program is also offered by the CEAS to students inTaipei,Taiwan.

    In addition, the CEAS also offers online Masters programs in opto-electro-mechanical systems, information systems, technology management and a number of professional training programs.

    TheSchoolofNursingalso offers a series of distance learning programs.’ Beginning in 1995 with a program in Nurse Midwifery. Course offerings now include Adult Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner programs.’ In addition, three programs are offered at the undergraduate level, including a Bachelor’s program to Registered Nurse (RN).

    Even though these courses take place online and not in a lecture hall, Kim Garvin, Assistant Director of theSchoolofProfessional Development‘s Electronic Extension Program, warns that classes are vigorous. “A lot of people have misconceptions about online learning.’ A number of people think it’s independent study, but in fact, it’s a seminar, and students are required to participate,” said Garvin. “One thing people underestimate is the amount of work involved.”

    Despite the workload, Garvin says that students are satisfied with the programs offered: “We issue student satisfaction surveys, and we constantly rate higher than many classes that meet in person, she said”

    The success of distance learning programs has also been echoed by the other departments.’

    Dr. Philip Tarantino, Assistant Dean and Director of Continuing Education of theSchoolofNursingaffirmed the success of the distance learning programs. “The program has been very successful.’ We have students from 48 states and 12 countries.”‘ Additionally, according to Yacov Shamash, Dean of theCollegeofEngineeringand Applied Sciences, distance learning programs offered by CEAS are received by students in locations ranging from the headquarters of Symbol Technologies and Northrop Grumman onLong Island, toTaiwanandSouth Korea.’ Finally, students from as far away asCanadaandHawaiiparticipate in distance learning programs offered by SPD.

    The success of these programs is also seen in their enrollment.’ 830 students are currently enrolled in theSchoolofNursing‘s distance learning programs.’ SPD’s enrollment totals 974 students, while approximately 150 students are enrolled in the CEAS’ programs.’

    According to Ilena D. Key, Associate Director of theSchoolofProfessional Development‘s Electronic Extention Program, students greatly benefit from the program.’ “Most classes are very effective, and in a lot of cases even build closer relationships, because of the small class size.”

    Like CEAS, theSchoolofNursingand the SPD are considering expanding their distance learning programs.’ “We currently have an application pending to offer Master’s programs in nursing administration and nursing education,” said Tarantino. “We are fundraising to fund a chair in research and start a doctoral program.”‘

    “We’ve been conservatively growing the program, and our hope is to continue to offer such classes in the future,” Key said.

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